by Swami Krishnananda
The conclusion that we drew was that the basic reality of ourselves is consciousness. Inasmuch as its characteristic precludes any division within itself, and also precludes the existence of anything that is outside itself, it follows that consciousness should be universal in its nature. That is to say, it is all-pervading, and there is no point in space where it is not.
It has to be so, because if it were not so—if there had been an internal variety in consciousness, or an external division or relationship of any kind—there would be nobody to know that there is such a division inside or outside, because the knower is consciousness only. If consciousness has a division within it—if it is partite, if there is one part of consciousness differentiated from another part, if there is some gap between two parts which is not consciousness—who will be able to know that there is such a gap? Consciousness alone can know that there is a division within itself. The consciousness of there being such a gap between its own two parts would imply its presence even in the gap itself; and so, the gap gets abolished.
So is the case with external relation. There is no internal division and external relation to consciousness. It just is. We defined it as sat—pure sat, Pure Existence, Pure Being. And it is aware of itself; therefore, we called it sat-chit. And inasmuch as it is utter freedom from trammels of every kind, it is ananda, Bliss. The Supreme Reality, therefore, is sat-chit-ananda. It is not some particular location; it is not a thing; it is not a person. It is a definition of that ubiquitous Absolute Being.
If this is the nature of reality, how is it that we are seeing something in the form of a world outside, as if there is a division between the seer and the seen? Our philosophical or analytical conclusion is that in conscious perception there should not be a division. Consciousness cannot become an object of its own self, nor can there be an object outside itself. Such being the case, how are we to explain this world experience which seems to be a contradiction of the nature of Ultimate Being? Because of this contradiction between the nature of Ultimate Reality and our practical day-to-day experience, we call our experience as samsara, or involvement in something that is not real. Our perceptions contradict reality. In what way do they contradict?
The knowledge of this situation requires a little bit of insight into the nature of creation itself—how the world came into being. If we know the process of the creation of the universe, which includes creation of our own selves also, we will know to some extent where we stand in this world. Otherwise, we seem to be under the puerile impression, like children, that we are well off here on the surface of the earth, in some locality, in some country, in some family, in some little cottage. This is the idea of our location, as far as people like us are concerned.
Are we really located in such a prosaic manner as we seem to define ourselves? In this structure of creation, can we say our location is in a hut, in a little bungalow, on a little land? There seems to be something more about it than appears on the surface. There is a fundamental error in the process of human perception, or any kind of empirical perception.
In the process of creation, what is supposed to have taken place is a sudden split, as it appears to take place in the dream world. In dream, we have become the seer as well as the seen. Now we are in the state of waking. Our mind is integrated, we may say, because we have a total psychic operation. That is why we are sane, logical, sensible and intelligible. When we say our mind is perfectly in order, what we seem to mean is that there is no gap or split in the operation of the psyche. There is a perfect alignment of the parts of the psyche so that the psyche or mind becomes a wholesome, integrated operation.
This psyche of ours which is so wholesome in waking appears to become something other than what it is in the dream world. It can appear as a large mountain in front—space, time and what not. Who is the seer of the dream? It is the very same mind which has become the object. It also manufactures the process of perception, like space and time. It is not just the segregation of the waking mind into the subjective side and the objective side; there is a third element of the possibility of perception of the objective world.
There must be a connection between me and the object outside so that I may be aware that there is an object outside. This is very important. If a wall is in front of me, I must be able to know that there is a wall in front of me. How can I know it unless there is some kind of intelligible relation between me—between the so-called seeing mind—and the object outside? The wall is not inside my eyes. It is far away. How do I know that it is there? I can see even distant things without them being inside my eyes. How people perceive things is a part of perceptional psychology.
Mostly the study of general psychology does not go deep into this matter. They do not wish to be philosophical in their nature. Psychology is not philosophy—though in India especially, philosophy and psychology are related to each other as inseparables; philosophy, religion and psychology go together. But in the West, they have been isolated. Religion is different from philosophy; philosophy is different from psychology. And even in psychology, we have general psychology, abnormal psychology, industrial psychology, experimental psychology, and so on.
The psychology of perception has an implication behind it, within it: namely, the intelligibility involved in the perception of an object outside. Let us take dream as a very clear example before us. How do we perceive the objective dream world? We will be surprised to realise that this waking mind, so-called, which is our true mind, has manufactured a peculiar dramatic circumstance in the dream world, where it is the director of the drama, the audience, the enacting process, and even the light on the stage. If there is no light on the stage, the performance will not be intelligible. That light is something which people do not notice—though, without which, no perception is possible.
When we are observing a dramatic performance, we do not go on looking at the light, though we know very well that without the light, nothing is possible. We are totally unaware of there being such a thing called light. We are absorbed in the objective enactment and not in the condition that is precedent to the very enactment itself—namely, light.
Similarly, in the dream world, as it is in the waking world, we are involved in the object outside and engrossed in the value that we attach to that object, or the meaning that we seem to be seeing in it—so much engrossed that we have no time to go deeper into the very condition of this perception. How did this perception become possible at all? The mind has become the subjective side, it has become the object of perception, and it has to also become the intelligence connecting the subject with the object.
This analogy of the dream phenomena will be a kind of explanation of what must have taken place, or what has taken place, as the scriptures tell us, at the time of creation. We may compare our waking mind to a total absolute. For all our daily practical purposes, it is that. That totality of the absolute psyche of our waking condition has become the subjective side, the objective side and also the link between the subject and the object.
The same thing has happened in a cosmic fashion. By analogy, we may transfer our dream perception psychology to the cosmic psychology of universal perception. If we are to study this subject in terms of the statements of the scriptures, especially the Vedas and the Upanishads, we may gather that there was an impulse to divide, as the waking mind has an impulse to become an object in the dream world, whatever be the cause. Why dreams take place is a different subject, which we will not enter into now.
The impulse to divide an organic totality into subjective and objective sides is the cause of dream perception. This total cosmic impulse is, according to the scriptures, the will of God. “Let there be this,” and it is there immediately, by the very affirmation of the will. “May I become other than what I am.” The universe is the otherness of God—the self-alienation of the Absolute, the Supreme Being beholding Itself, as it were, through the mirror of space and time.
Place a mirror in front of you. Do you see yourself? Is it possible for a person to see one’s own self? Can you become an object of your own self in perception? You know very well that in logical parlance, ‘A’ cannot become ‘B’. That ‘A’ is ‘A’ is the law of identity, and that ‘A’ cannot be ‘B’ is the law of contradiction. You cannot be something which is seen, because you are the seer. But in a mirror, you can see yourself. You have objectified yourself through a medium that makes it possible for you to behold yourself as an other than yourself.
Have you really become other than yourself? No. Remove the mirror, and the object is not there. The mirror of cosmic perception is the space-time-cause complex. Space is a name that we give to that intermediary vacuum or emptiness, as it were, which is necessary for alienating the subject into the object. Even in dream, space is necessary. The dream space is absolutely essential; otherwise, we will not see anything there. The space-time complex is the medium; it is the mirror through which the seeing mind beholds itself as if it is another.
God willed to be as if He is another. In the Purusha Sukta of the Vedas, and in certain other analogous mantras of the Vedas, enunciation is made that this universe of variety is the limbs of the Absolute. The Purusha Sukta begins by saying sahasrasirsa purusah sahasraksah sahasrapat, sa bhumim visvato vrtva’tyatistaddasagulam: The millionfold variety that is apparently visible as this universe is the head, the eyes, the hands and feet, the limbs of the Supreme Being. The Bhagavadgita says the same thing in its thirteenth chapter. Sarvatah pani-padam tat sarvato’ksi-siro-mukham, sarvatah srutimal loke sarvam avritya tisthati: Everywhere are ears, everywhere are eyes, everywhere are feet, everywhere are heads, the limbs of God.
The idea is that in the dream world, the whole thing is the mind. The mountain is the mind, the trees are the mind, the sun and the moon and the stars that we see in the dream world are our mind, the space is the mind, the time is the mind, and the causal relation is the mind. The entire activity is the mind. In dream we see a tiger pursuing us, and we run and climb to the top of a tree. The tiger is our mind, the running process is our mind, the tree is our mind, even the climbing is our mind.
All this mysterious activity that we can see—we can become a butterfly in dream, we can become a king, we can become a pauper, we can even be born and die in dream—all these things, wondrous as they appear, are the dramatic activity, peculiar magical performance of our mind. So this is again an analogy from our own personal experience to understand what the Vedas mean by saying that the whole universe is God’s limbs spread out.
But has God really become something other than what He is? Has God become non-God merely because we see something as the form of creation? The answer to this question is: Have we become the mountain, really? If that is the case, we would not wake up into the person that we were. The mountain would wake up. There is no mountain; it has gone into the integrated mind. Though the dream world is really perceptible, and in dream we can hit your head against a real wall, yet nothing has happened.
There are varieties of creation theories, the majority concluding that the world has somehow come from God. But the ‘somehow’ is difficult to explain. The creationist doctrines of a realistic nature say that there is an actual modification of the reality into the form of this world. What is meant by ‘modification’? Is it as milk becomes curd or yogurt? When milk becomes curd, milk has ceased to be what it is; it has become the curd. If that is the case, the matter is very serious. There will be no milk afterwards. We can drink our curd, but we cannot ask for milk again.
If God has really modified Himself into the yogurt of this world, there is no use asking for God, because God has ceased to be. He has become this, which we are seeing with our eyes. That is a very dangerous doctrine, because there is nothing to aspire for; all that we are aspiring for has died into this form of the manifested world. This doctrine is called Parinamavada, or the doctrine of transformation.
Our aspirations do not permit this kind of argument of the realistic doctrines. We long for higher and higher things. We long for endless things; we long for eternal life. We do not want to die; we want to defy death. We would like to possess the entire space. We would like to overcome time itself. How does this aspiration arise in us if the root of it has ceased to exist?
The analogy once again comes to our aid. Creation seems to have taken place, and very realistically indeed, but not as milk becoming curd. It is as an appearance. Is not a dream an appearance? Or has the mind really become the stone, brick, forest and trees that we see in dream? In spite of the hard realistic perception of the dream world, it is psychic in its content. All the objects in the world of dream are psychic in their nature; they are not physical.
In a similar manner, the entire world of perception, physical as it may appear in an astronomical sense, is a modification of consciousness. We may call it condensation, centralisation, pinpointing, etc., of the Universal Consciousness itself. It has become the seer of this world, it has become the world that we see, and it is also the process of perception—in the same way as the dream world has manifested itself from our own waking mind.
Now, what happens to us in the dream world? We take it for real. We can get frightened in dream, we can feel happy in dream. All the experiences that we seem to be undergoing in the waking world can also be undergone in the dream world. If a tiger pounces on us in dream, we may scream, and the screaming may be real. We will yell out and get up—a tiger has come! Such reality is attributed to the object of pure psychic content. We get attached to things, and we are also repelled by things in the dream world. We can become emperors, we can become beggars in dream.